Sustainability Approaches and Practices of Ryanair



Sustainability practices are highly important for the development of society and for the betterment of environmental quality. An organisation that follows sustainability approaches makes a significant contribution to improving natural resources. In this regard, Ryanair UK has been selected in the study for discussion as a sustainable organisation that endorses sustainability approaches. This particular report will describe available evidence of the current approaches to sustainability of the organisation along with its responses to sustainability challenges. Furthermore, the report will critically analyse the company’s approach and the effectiveness of its currently implemented practices and measures will be discussed as well. The study will include suggestions of two key sustainability concerns which the organisation can apply in its future operations as well as recommend effective solutions for sustainability development. Along with that, a brief personal reflection will be further included in the report that will cover all the aspects of learning. 

Organisation’s current approaches to sustainability and responses to sustainability challenges

A brief overview of the company

Ryanair UK is a British budget airline organisation which is based at Stansted airport. The company is headquartered in London, United Kingdom and offering its services since 1985. The organisation is the UK subsidiary of the budget Irish airline group ‘Ryanair Holdings’. The company’s operations include over 2,400 daily flights from 82 bases which carry almost 154 million passengers each year (Ryanair, 2021). The airline group connects more than 200 destinations in 40 countries with the help of a fleet of more than 470 aircraft. In addition to that, the organisation employs almost 19,000 extremely talented aviation professionals who deliver the best on-time performance in Europe. It has been identified that the annual revenue of the organisation has increased and reached almost € 8.5 billion as of its FY 2019-20 (Mazareanu, 2020). The company has archived the sixth rank among the biggest airline groups by worldwide passenger numbers and was the top carrier in Europe.

Current approaches to sustainability and responses

It can be further stated in this context that Ryanair is the greenest and the cleanest airline organisation in Europe. The organisation is delivering its budget passenger-friendly growth in an environmentally sustainable manner by making investments in new aircraft and upgraded engine technology. The company also provides the most efficient sustainable operations as well as commercial processes for lowering its impact on the environment. Additionally, the company has been verified independently as the industry leader in ecological efficiency and the organisation is constantly focusing on developing its environmental performance(Ryanair Group, 2021). As for the current approaches it can be stated that the company has launched a customer charter named ‘Always Getting Better’ (AGB) and released a new website and an application for promoting sustainability and improve customer engagement. These approaches provide information to its customers to travel more comfortably and economically. The company is currently investing in developing sustainability to accomplish its growth objectives. The company has implemented a “low drag approach” landing system which lowers the fuel burn rate by nearly 5% by optimising aircrafts’ aerodynamic settings.

Ryanair has also installed winglets and ‘Slimline seats’ for reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions greatly.The company has lowered emissions by 11% per passenger by enhancing load factors in past three years. The company use both ground and auxiliary power units while turnarounds for reducing fuel emissions. Ryanair also uses an LED lighting system in all its ‘Boeing Sky Interior’ (BSI) for improved energy efficiency. A recent approach has been also made for noise reduction by implementing a “single-engine taxiing” policy and Cost index optimisation process(Hayward, 2021). As for its response to sustainability challenges it has been identified that the company has ordered 210 Boeing 737 aircraft to offer low-fare service and increase traffic across Europe (Philip and Johnson, 2020). Moreover, the organisation has focused on increasing recycling practices and moved towards a paperless office for reducing its carbon footprint. The company has also invested in its gym and canteens to improve the health and food habits of its employees. A scheme named “Cycle to Work” has been also introduced by the company to lower carbon emissions by allowing staff in purchasing a bicycle in a tax-friendly manner.

Evaluation of the organisation’s current approach and practices

It has been identified that Ryanair UK has made several approaches to enhance its sustainable activities and focusing further on improving some behaviours. The organisation has achieved extreme popularity at the national and international level for its green and clean flight operations. In terms of economical sustainability, it can be noted that the organisation has implemented a low-cost business model to achieve a rapid surge in its business operations. In addition to that, the company’s value proposition is to offer the lowest possible fares to its passengers (Kotze, 2017). To become economically sustainable the organisation has been using a budget airline business strategy. Due to this approach the company has gained immense popularity across the country. As for the result, the company has witnessed a significant increase in its customer base in recent years where large numbers of people are using its flight services. As per the statement of the company’s CEO Michael O’Leary, the best growth opportunities have been identified in 30 years. The airline organisation has uplifted almost 27.5 million passengers from the last year to March 2021(Humphries, 2021). It has been forecasted that the number of passengers is to go beyond 2019 traffic levels of approx 149 million next year.  In other words, the aviation company would transport a large number of passengersby the end of 2022 even in the pandemic scenario. Moreover, in the previous years, the company had connected 216 destinations by flying 149 million passengers. This has made the company become the leading aircraft carrier in Europe.

Moreover, the airline company has been rated by the“Morgan Stanley Capital International” (MSCI) “ESG Rating Report, Feb 2016” as having the lowest emissions among all airlines in its survey. It can be stated that Ryanair has achieved this low amount of CO2 emission rate because of its improved energy efficiency practices. The energy and fuel-saving practices have allowed the airline organisation to acquire the highest place in the UK in terms of green operations. It has been further identified that the budget airline company has made a contribution of €1.5 million to sustainable aviation projects. The company has donated the amount to launch an Aviation research centre by collaborating with ‘Trinity College Dublin’(Mayling, 2021). With this approach, the company has initiated research in producing ‘sustainable aviation fuels’, ‘zero carbon aircraft propulsion systems’ as well as noise mapping. In this regard, it can be noted that the company will power almost 12.5% of its aircraft with sustainable aviation fuels by the end of 2030. Besides, the company has further invested in its new Boeing ‘Game-changer’aircraft as a major sustainability approach. It can be expected that this new advanced aircraft will lower its carbon and noise footprint in a significant manner over the next decade. Moreover, due to the eco-friendly and efficient carbon emission sustainable practices, the company can be able to reduce its impact on the environment. These approaches will allow the company to fly greener as well as lead the industry to a more sustainable means of flying at the same time keeping the charges low and reasonable for all European families.

It can be stated that the approaches made by Ryanair to reduce its fuel burn will lower the overall pollution rate of the atmosphere in a considerable manner as the company conducts a huge amount of flight operations by connecting 40 countries. With respect to that, the company pledges to reduce its emissions to below 60 grams of carbon-di-oxide per customer km by the end of 2030 (Ryanair Environmental Policy, 2020). In this way, the company can play a critical role in limiting the rise of global temperature. Moreover, the company has collaborated with different charities and help children and people in need. In 2018, the company launched a voluntary offset option in its booking system that allows passengers in offsetting their environmental impact. The scheme started with €1 for each person; however, the company increased the contribution rate from €1 to €2 in 2020 (Thicknesse, 2020). The funds collected from these guest contributions are annually distributed to NGOs and environmental charities partnered by the company. More than 2% of the company’s customers have made their responses to this scheme. From this practice, it can be argued that the organisation also play an important role in the development of social sustainability.

Sustainability framework is a method to systematize thinking regarding sustainability and inform management, planning, and analysis of operations in terms of developing as well as maintaining health outcomes at a population level. It is usually implemented by the organisational employees and local shareholders. With this regard, it can be stated that Ryanair UK uses the ‘Global Reporting Initiative’ (GRI) as a sustainability framework to improve its sustainable operations. It is a standard organisation that helps Ryanair through sustainability reporting to understand and resolve issues regarding its green business operations (Boiral and Henri, 2017). This particular framework supports and encourages the company in managing its large impacts. By implementing this framework, Ryanair UK communicates with its stakeholders more effectively and by fulfilling their needs the company adds value to society, economy, and environment.

Suggestion of sustainability concern and recommendation of solutions

It can be stated that sustainability concerns are one of the biggest concerns that a business organisation must consider focusing on.  With the help of sustainability, human needs can be fulfilled without affecting future generations’ ability for meeting their own needs. However, in the current situation, there are any issues or concerns that are restricting people to fulfil their own needs. Moreover, the concerns regarding sustainability must be mitigated properly to reduce its impact on the future generation as well as for the development of the current society. There are different sustainability issues that are affecting business organisations. Among those, climate change and pollution are major issues which is also a concern for the sustainability of Ryanair. It can be noted that climate change is one of the major concerning areas that the company needs to focus on. Climate change directly impacts sustainable development. This particular issue caused by the global advancement of temperature crates has numerous negative effects on the planet. On the other hand, pollution is also a major concern for the company with respect to its sustainability. Pollution can create a severe impact on the environment and generate long-term effects for mankind. There are different kinds of pollutions and from that air pollution and noise pollution are a key concern of the company. There are several ways to control the sustainability crises that can be used by the company.

Implant of more auxiliary power units

It can be recommended that the company should increase its level of investments to develop its auxiliary power units which will be highly sustainable for the environment. By installing more auxiliary units the flights will gain more energy for functions other than propulsion without the support of ground power units (Ahmed et al. 2021). In addition, these power units will help the flights in long run as the capacity of the aircrafts’ batteries will be drastically increased. This can be very helpful for environmental sustainability as well because the advancement in batteries will lower the consumption of fuels in a huge manner. Less number burning fuels will produce less CO2 thereby the air pollution level will be significantly low which can also create a positive impact on climate. This recommendation can be very useful for the company as the auxiliary units are used in large aircraft which will be suitable for the company Boeing flights series.

Development of the aviation fuel

Ryanair needs to include more researchers and strongly focus on developing sustainable aviation fuels. This method can be very useful for the company as improved aviation fuels will create a low impact on the environment by producing zero carbon emissions. The company needs to switch to Electrofuels also considered as e-fuels made with hydrogen which is acquired from the electrolysis of water (Goldmann et al. 2018). This advanced fuel can be a perfect replacement for regular aviation fuels which release different harmful gases to the environment. These fuels are produced with electrical energy therefore it will create less impact on the ecosystem. Moreover, by using advanced fuel the organisation will be able to reduce its carbon footprint in a huge manner.

Improvement of efficiency

The company should concentrate on developing its efficiency regarding flight operations. Ryanair should promote the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in its business model. With the help of AI, the company can increase the level of internal safety within its flights which can be also useful for the passengers. Moreover, machine learning can optimise the overall flight technologies successfully. With the help of AI and machine learning the company ensure aviation safety by calculating the consumption of fuel as well as identifying areas for maintenance (Huang and Samuels, 2021). This recommendation is very justified for the company as by monitoring fuel consumption rate and improving safety aviation professionals can enhance overall efficiency which can create a low impact on the environment. Next to that, organisational efficiency should be also improved to implement this recommendation successfully. The company should provide sufficient training to its employees for using AI and machine learning in a better way. The management needs to listen to its professionals regarding monitoring of fuel consumption and welcome ideas about less fuel use. By doing so, sustainability can be significantly developed.

Increase the number of electric aircraft

Ryanair should expand its fleet by including electric aircraft to have a long-term effect for the future. These particular flights will be completely powered by electric cells. This method is extremely relevant to environmental sustainability as these types of aircraft will create zero-emission and for that these will be highly beneficial for the environment(Coren, 2020). The organisation should obtain aircraft that are powered by advanced batteries or solar cells. It can be stated that the use of natural resources can make the flights become more eco-friendly and offer more efficiency. To have a better impact on the environment the company should acquire upgraded electric aircraft with digital flight control and synthetic vision system which will maximise the capabilities of aircraft to the utmost extent. These aeroplanes can help to improve the climate by producing zero emissions. However, electric aircraft can be useful for short-haul flights as their overall mass is greater than regular flights for that these can be highly useful for cargo deliveries.

It can be stated that the company will require a huge amount of investment to apply these recommendations. There are different ways to acquire funding for making the needed change. Ryanair should seek help from the UK government to help with the investments. Different government programs or subsidies can help the budget airline organisation in this manner. Furthermore, the company can implement a crowdfunding practice to collect money from the population for the betterment of the environment. This can be very useful as the company will have easier access to capital and achieve a great return on investments (Green et al. 2015). In addition to that, the company should change its leadership practices for improving organisational efficiency. Successful leadership practices can help to implement these ideas and create a positive impact on the environment. It has been identified that the organisational CEO follows a task-based leadership style where he focuses on getting the job done (Hughes, 2019). However, a democratic leadership style is needed by the company to apply effective leadership practices necessary for recommendations.

Personal reflection

Based on the learning from the module I can state that suitability is highly important in developing the overall environmental quality. Effective sustainable practices can give us the necessary resources that we need for living. From the study, I have learned that Ryanair UK is a budget airline organisation that is famous in the country for its clean and green operations. I have also identified that the company has made different approaches to sustainability. For instance, it is investing in modern engine technology and launched a customer charter to endorse sustainability and increase customer engagement. The organisation has also implemented various aircraft-related technologies and improved green practices by focusing on recycling materials which in my belief is very important for environmental sustainability. Moreover, by evaluating the organisation’s current approach and practices I came to know that Ryanair uses a low-cost business model and a budget airline strategy for becoming economically sustainable and these are the main reason for the company’s huge passenger growth over the years. In my theory, the new Boeing aircraft in which the company has invested can successfully reduce the carbon and noise footprint in a huge way over the upcoming decade. It has been also recognised by me that, the company has partnered with several NGOs and charities to help needy children and adults. In this way, Ryanair is focusing to develop its social sustainability. I have also found out that climate change and pollution are the major concerning areas for the company in relation to sustainability. However, I have known several ways in which these issues can be successfully mitigated and these will help to make our environment better. 


It can be concluded from the study that sustainable practices are very important for the company as well as the environment as well. The report has provided a brief description of the selected organisation. Moreover, its current activities in sustainability and its response to sustainability challenges have been further discussed in the study. The report has included a critical evaluation of the approaches and effectiveness of its practices and measures. Some recommendations have been also discussed in the study regarding developing the two sustainability concerns. A personal reflection has been further involved in the report.


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